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More than 300 men and boys have been freed after authorities raided illegally operated Islamic reform schools in Nigeria, where male students have been chained, beaten, enslaved, starved and raped.  The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that it would no longer tolerate abuse and inhumane conditions at institutions known as Almajiris, schools where parents send their children for Islamic education, rehabilitation or discipline.  Authorities discovered children as young as 5 were being chained to metal railings with their feet shackled together.  Since the announcement, more victims have been freed from Islamic reform centres in other places.

The President directed the police to disband all such centres and all the inmates to be handed over to their parents.  Authorities recently announced that they raided a second Islamic reform centre in Kaduna, freeing 147 people.  The raid marked the fourth operation in a month against Islamic reform centres in northern Nigeria.  According to Reuters, over 1,000 people have been released from the schools. Unlike other raids, the most recent raid on the school in the Rigasa area of Kaduna yielded the release of 22 female captives, a Kaunda government official said.  The school in Rigasa was owned by the same person who owned one of two schools raided in Katsina earlier.

Police raided the institutions after some of the victims revolted and escaped.  About 67 people were rescued during the raid on the centre located where at least 300 inmates were held.  “In the course of investigation, 67 persons aged from 7 to 40 years were found shackled with chains and being subjected to various inhuman and degrading treatments,”  Katsina police spokesman Sanusi Buba said. Many were sent to the school to learn the Quran or to receive drug addiction treatment.  Police arrested 3 men for crimes including wrongful confinement, cruelty to children and criminal conspiracy.

Fahad Mubi, told police that he stayed at the centre in Daura for two years.  During that time, he said he saw six people die and two develop mental problems due to abuses.  Mubi claimed that rape was common and money sent by the students’ parents was used by teachers.” Mubi charged,  “There are no lessons being taught here, we don’t worship or pray, it’s always beating and more beatings.  Some people have spent up to eight years here.”  Mubi said that he and others were regularly starved and deprived of medication.  Hassan Adamu, a victim held at the same facility, said there were 32 people housed in each room of the facility.  And it is a small room.”

Adamu explained. “If you want to defecate at night, we have cellophane bags that we used.  We had to urinate into a gallon jar and if you don’t have one, you urinate in your food container,” he added.  “In the morning, you pour the urine away and use the same container for your food.”  Human rights advocates warned that students could be facing similar abuses at other Almajiri schools in Nigeria.  Authorities estimate there are more than 9 million students enrolled in Almajiri institutions.  Almajiri schools have “some of the shabbiest conditions imaginable” as many victims face “nutritional challenges aggravated by daily street begging and next to no jobs or opportunities.”

Source: Christian Post